Six reasons why the ANC didn’t fire Zuma

Never before in his seven-year reign has there been such a strong call by a wide spectrum of ANC members for President Jacob Zuma to step down. Still, he emerged seemingly strongly after the most recent meeting of the party’s top leaders. So why couldn’t the national executive committee (NEC) fire Zuma?

  1.    Step down as president of what? The first question the party would have had to ask is whether they wanted to recall Zuma from the country’s presidency, or from the party’s presidency, or both? Some believed it would not create a right precedent for an NEC alone to recall Zuma from the ANC’s presidency, as this would be seen to be overriding the choice the branches made at the party’s elective conferences in 2007 and 2012. 

2.    Local government elections campaign: A source who attended the meeting and who was in the lobby group that wanted to see Zuma go, told M&G Online that this group was in the majority but consciously pulled back because it would impact negatively on the party before the local government elections. “Imagine what it would have done to the image of the ANC? It would have been irresponsible of us to do that,” the NEC member said. It would also have taken the party’s attention away from selecting list candidates – when violence had already erupted at some meetings – and from campaigning, when support for the ANC in some key municipalities is already on a knife edge.  

3.    Bad precedents: Many in the ANC still remember President Thabo Mbeki’s recall in 2008 as a bruising, painful and polarising period in the governing party. It’s not an experience many want to see repeated, and recalling a president twice in a row so early in the country’s democracy could cause the party to make a habit – or even a tradition – out of it. 

4.    The void: If Zuma was recalled as president of the country, who would step into his place? Rightfully it should be Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has ambitions of his own to step up to the ANC’s presidency next year. This would, however, create two centres of power between the Union Buildings and Luthuli House, should Zuma stay on as ANC president. Should Zuma be recalled as ANC president too, there is always the risk that Ramaphosa would not be elected ANC president, which would again present the problem of a duplication of power centres. 


5.    A president on a short leash is better than a bored ex-president: When Zuma was sacked as deputy president in 2005, he suddenly had a lot of time on his hands to organise. He also did not have to abide by government protocols anymore about where to go and who to speak to, so he was free to campaign anywhere. Should Zuma be released from his duties now, he would have the freedom to campaign for a comeback to the ANC’s top spot either in person (there are no term limits in the ANC right now) or in the form of a presidential candidate of his choice. He might just be successful too, because ANC members love an underdog. As things stand, the NEC decided to keep Zuma on and to remind him that appointments should be made by him. He should consult the ANC about these, and not anybody outside the party, they said. 

6.    A revolt from the branches: When you take important decisions like getting rid of a leader, it’s always best to take the branches with you to avoid a revolt or a split. A special national congress would be the best way to deal with an urgent recall. In the absence of that, it’s best for the party to bide its time until its next congress in 2017.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Advertising

Subscribers only

How lottery execs received dubious payments through a private company

The National Lottery Commission is being investigated by the SIU for alleged corruption and maladministration, including suspicious payments made to senior NLC employees between 2016 and 2017

Pandemic hobbles learners’ futures

South African schools have yet to open for the 2021 academic year and experts are sounding the alarm over lost learning time, especially in the crucial grades one and 12

More top stories

Zuma, Zondo play the waiting game

The former president says he will talk once the courts have ruled, but the head of the state capture inquiry appears resigned to letting the clock run out as the commission's deadline nears

Disinformation harms health and democracy

Conspiracy theorists abuse emotive topics to suck the air out of legitimate debate and further their own sinister agendas

Uganda: ‘I have never seen this much tear-gas in an...

Counting was slow across Uganda as a result of the internet shutdown, which affected some of the biometric machines used to validate voter registrations.

No way out for Thales in arms deal case, court...

The arms manufacturer has argued that there was no evidence to show that it was aware of hundreds of indirect payments to Jacob Zuma, but the court was not convinced.
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…